The Only Engagement Question You Need to Ask

Forget those multiple question engagement surveys. Your employees need only one question, the same one the late Steve Jobs asked himself each morning:

If today were the last day of my life would I want to do what I have to do?

“I view this question as the perfect proxy for employee engagement,” declares Ben Sands. And the results of that proxy question are not good, says the leadership coach and facilitator for Sands Leadership.

“Only 13% (of employees) are waking up each day excited about the work they have to do,” Sands told a DisruptHR audience in Charleston, South Carolina. Despite HR’s best efforts, he says, that percentage hasn’t improved in years, so what gives?

What give is that HR’s engagement strategy is broken. Engagement surveys “look for strings to pull to get people to work harder and to care more. It doesn’t work like that,” says Sands. The responsibility for engagement has to move to the front line, “you and me.”

The problem, Sands explains, is that most employees don’t know where they want to go, how to get from A to B, they have no plan. As the Cheshire Cat in Alice in Wonderland tells Alice, “If you don’t know where you want to go, any road will take you there.”

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The solution, says Sands, is for employees to have their own roadmap. Help them do that, and engagement will follow.

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1 Comment on “The Only Engagement Question You Need to Ask

  1. While this question is unique and honest answers may be telling, I’m willing to bet that most interviewees wouldn’t be honest about what they would do with their last day! I mean, even if I love my job, one day in the grand scheme of things isn’t going to change much. I’d want to talk to people I love and eat lots of chocolate. When I truly love my job, I treat each day as my last and do my best work, just in case I can’t be there one day.

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